Recognizing Jesus

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The hard part about recognizing Jesus as the God of the Old Testament (in human form) is there are two variables and three ways to go wrong.  So a person can have a wrong idea of what “Jesus” is and a wrong idea of the OT “God” or have a right idea of Jesus and a wrong idea of God, or a right idea of God and a wrong idea of Jesus.  Not only that but both figures are used by cultures in such a way that they become like mirrors: as the writer Anais Nin said, “we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”  This is often true for how different cultures see God and Jesus.

If you were to look at early U.S. history from the perspective of Black Supremacy, the founding fathers were nothing but hypocrites who either enslaved people or approved of (and socialized with) those who did.  In some sense this is true.  But if that’s all you knew, you would miss what the American revolution was all about!  Because slavery was part of the baseline culture of the British colonies, one needs to look beyond it in order to get what was going on.  To be a slave owner today would be the height of evil, and I’m not condoning slavery today or in any other time.  But it would be wrong (although perfectly logical, in a way) to assume that George Washington was nothing but an evil man because he owned slaves.  If someone said “the founding fathers were nothing but racists” that would tell you a lot about the person saying it, and very little about the historical figures.

In the same way, you might have trouble with the violence of the Old Testament.  Many of the cultures of Ancient Biblical history were more violent (to our sensibilities), so unless you can see beyond the culture of violence, you can never know who God is.  To understand any historical character the modern person needs to get past our cultural baseline for violence – William Wallace was more than a killer, the Wallace of Braveheart was a noble soul!

Some day in the future our descendants will consider us barbaric because of the way we produce (and eat) beef and pork (maybe) or because of our trade policies, or something we don’t even realize… And if that’s all they saw, they would never be able to know us, as we really are, right now.  But if you accept the cultural baselines for human behavior and language and customs in the Bible, what you begin to find is a God with a clear and consistent character…and message…

Related posts:

  1. A Bible Primer
  2. More on the City…
  3. The Old Testament Jesus
  4. Treating other cultures with respect…
  5. Theory of (cultural) relativity…
  6. Violence in the Bible…[1]
  7. Jesus asked people to follow, and some didn’t
  8. More than just code-shifting…

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